If the first game of the season is any indication of what to expect from the Apple Valley boys’ hockey team, one thing to watch for is balance.
The Eagles, who surprised some people with a run to the Class 2A state tournament semifinals last season, return a strong corps from that young team and showed their strength in defeating Bloomington Jefferson 6-3 Tuesday night at Bloomington Ice Garden. Apple Valley is No. 7 in the Let’s Play Hockey magazine 2A rankings, and Jefferson is No. 13.
The Eagles’ goals came from five players, with junior forward Trent Heuer scoring twice and getting two assists. Heuer assisted on the game’s opening goal by Hudson Fasching, last year’s leading scorer, and Heuer’s goals came in the second period as Apple Valley opened a 4-1 lead.
“We forecheck hard and see what happens,” Heuer said. “Tonight we got a couple of hardworking goals. It felt good to get two goals. We couldn’t ask for a better night.”
Last year, Apple Valley finished sixth in the Lake Conference with a 10-9 league record. But the Eagles got on a postseason roll that didn’t end until they lost to eventual state champion Edina in the state semifinals. There will be no surprising success story this year, because Apple Valley has been tagged as a team to watch.
“It just helped, going to the state tournament and knowing we had the ability to go to the next level,” Heuer said. “It feels great to get the first win. Everyone’s just looking at us now as one of the top team teams in the state.”
Apple Valley is diving right into the competitive soup, playing at third-ranked Eden Prairie on Thursday. The Eagles’ fifth game of the season, on Dec. 14, will be against No. 2 Wayzata.
Jefferson, which went 19-6-3 last season and finished the season with a loss to Edina in the Section 2 tournament, has a similarly tough early schedule, meeting Eden Prairie on Saturday and facing Wayzata on Dec. 16.
(To see a postgame video interview with Trent Heuer and a photo gallery from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)
BY THE NUMBERS
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--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn